Inside “Succession” Episode 4: Kendall Makes His Move
“The terrible bubble of grief has burst,” says Succession creator Jesse Armstrong at the top of the latest “Inside the Episode” video, which unpacks the fourth episode, the first in the series to carry forth without Brian Cox’s Logan Roy, the brutal sun upon which all the rest of Succession’s characters and plot points swirled. The promise in the show’s title is now in its final, desperate lurch towards bearing out, and a single scrap of paper left behind among Logan’s personal effects might have huge consequences for the Roy children and the rest of the bloodhounds sniffing around for a piece of the remaining pie.
That scrap of paper had Kendall’s name as the next CEO of WayStar. The name is either underlined or crossed out—it’s unclear—but it’s enough for Kendall (Jeremy Strong) to make a play for the top job.
“I don’t even think it’s Kendall saying I’m going to take the lead here,” says Strong in the “Inside the Episode” video. “I think it’s Kendall saying, ‘Let’s call this what it is—I am the lead here.’”
“To Kendall, it looks like he definitely meant for me to take over,” says J. Smith Cameron, who plays Gerri. “To someone else, it looks like a grocery list he’s half struck through.”
This scrap of paper re-establishes a dynamic between the three Roy children (sans Connor [Alan Ruck], of course, who was never considered as a successor) in which Kendall believes himself to be the obvious choice, yet he takes a less bullheaded approach this time around. In fact, he suggests that he and Roman (Kieran Culkin) share the top job, leaving Shiv (Sarah Snook) out, claiming she’s too green for the job and her inclusion wouldn’t look serious to the board or Wall Street. But, both he and Roman promise their sister she’ll be very much involved in every big decision and will be their co-leader, just not on paper. It’s a dubious promise, made especially so because the Roy family is not known for their honor.
“Previously, I’d go a couple of days without seeing Jeremy in a scene because we’ve been on opposite sides of the fence,” Sarah Snook says, “but then, we’re doing scenes altogether, which has been great.”
The Roy Three, as Kendall, Shiv, and Roman have always been (even if, as Snook said, they were often at odds and not even in the same physical space), all agree with Kendall’s plan, even if Shiv can clearly sense her position is weak and her brothers aren’t trustworthy. But then the Roy Three are given a shock by the sudden appearance of Stephen Root’s Ron Petkus, who they find blathering on about Logan in a bullsh*t-laden toast at their father’s massive New York apartment (soon to be Conor’s, by the way).
“Suddenly, a guy we’ve only met once or twice in the show is giving a speech about your dad as you watch on,” says Jesse Armstrong. “I’ve heard about such events around the deaths of public figures and how the family can sometimes get edged out.”
The arrival of Ron Petkus gives the kids a reason to rally around each other. The scene had special meaning for Strong.
“So much has happened at our father’s house, and I can’t walk in there without feeling the history of that,” Strong says. “Our last day on that set was probably the only time, really, that I felt emotionally the sense of loss of this ending.”
Armstrong says that the way Kendall navigates the discovery of the paper with his name on it is by handling it in a very Logan-ish way; he keeps all his options open. “I don’t think at that point he has decided he’s going to push aside his siblings,” Armstrong says. “I think what he finds unbelievably annoying is their unwillingness to face the facts.”
The episode ends with a greasy suggestion by the WayStar comms team, led by Hugo (Fisher Stevens) and Carolina (Dagmara Domincyzk); they tell the kids that one way to calm the nerves of the market and the business press is by telling them that Logan had been slipping much more than the public realized and that the Roy kids had secretly been running WayStar for a while now. The idea is to make the ascension of Kendall and Roman as the new heads of the company less destabilizing; the kids had been alright the whole time. Roman and Shiv are grossed out by the idea of besmirching their dad so soon after his death, and Kendall claims to agree. But then, he does what he believes Logan would have done; he goes behind his sibling’s backs and tells Hugo to spread the rumors about his dearly departed dad. To do it quietly, without his fingerprints on it.
And so, the endgame has begun. Kendall has made his move.
Check out the full Inside the Video below.
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Featured image: Sarah Snook, Jeremy Strong, Kieran Culkin David M. Russell/HBO ©2022 HBO. All Rights Reserved.